cover image The Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights

Neil Philip. Orchard Books (NY), $19.95 (157pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06868-7

With its luxurious, jewel-toned illustrations, this handsome book affords a splendid introduction to the literary classic. Philip, a folklorist, presents a diverse selection of the stories collected and translated by Sir Richard Burton and others (an endnote identifies numerous sources and explains Philip's use of them). Included are such favorites as ``Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves'' and ``Aladdin''; ``Sinbad the Sailor,'' however, is omitted ``on the grounds both of length and tedium.'' Opening with Sheherazade's predicament before the king, Philip leaps into an energetic, colorful narrative, a patchwork of adventure and magic which telegraphs an exuberant love of storytelling. Lush acrylic paintings convey a fairy-tale wonder, whether depicting human or fantastic adventures. Royal chambers are decked out in rich crimsons and violets, and a star-splashed velvet sky hangs overhead. Moxley's palette and style bear more than a passing resemblance to the work of Jane Ray, and the layout and design recall that of Margaret Mayo and Ray's Magical Tales from Many Lands. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)